Ottawa's BluArc wants you to bring your own number to work

Ottawa-based bluArc wants to make it easier for you to ditch your desk phone … if only for part of the day.

The company, which provides hosted business phone and Internet services, introduced a new service this week that enables its customers to mimic the functionality of a desktop phone on their mobile devices.

BluArc is projecting that the new offering will lead its overall subscriber base to double over the next 12 to 18 months as more people look for a single communications solution that works whether they’re at their desks, on the road or working from home.

MobileConnect 2.0 lets users forgo traditional desk phones in favour of either computer applications or mobile devices enabled with features such as extensions, group calls, auto attendants and having direct, inward dialling numbers.

One of the key differentiators, the company says, is that many solutions currently on the market require users to all be on the same wireless network. MobileConnect 2.0 avoids the need to lock into a particular carrier.

It’s aimed at giving customers – particularly those who spend portions of their day working remotely – more flexibility, says Rick Koenders, a partner and vice-president of marketing and business development at bluArc.

“I don’t see desktop phones disappearing, but it’s slowly going to change,” he says. “More people will use their mobile devices and laptops to make business calls.”

Desktop phones still have several advantages over mobile devices, especially for heavy duty users such as call centre employees who are on the phone for long periods of time. They don’t have batteries that need to be charged, generally offer better acoustics and can be more comfortable to hold for extended periods.

BluArc, which launched its first product in 2006, currently has about 15,000 subscribers, according to Mr. Koenders. He said he expects that to increase to 30,000 by 2018 on the strength of the company’s MobileConnect offerings.

“This is going to expand our footprint tremendously,” says Mr. Koenders.